The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat scallops. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What scallops etiquette is

Scallops etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat scallops. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve scallops to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat scallops at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat scallops

What you should know about scallops

Scallops are a type of shellfish that belong to the Pectinidae family.

Scallops have a circular shape and two ridged shells that can be up to 6 inches in diameter. The color of the shell can vary from pale beige to brown, and the texture can range from firm to tender. Scallops have a sweet, delicate flavor and a slightly briny taste.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat scallops

1) How to store scallops

Scallops should be stored at a temperature between 30-34°F (0-1°C) in the fridge. In the pantry, you should store them in an airtight container. Consume them within 24 hours. In the fridge, fresh scallops can last for up to 2 days. In the freezer, they can last for up to 3 months.

Store cooked scallops in an airtight container in the fridge. They can last for up to 2 days.

2) How to clean scallops

To clean scallops, rinse them under cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel. There are risks associated with consuming raw or undercooked scallops, as they may contain harmful bacteria. It’s best to cook scallops thoroughly before consuming them. A small knife or spoon can be used to clean the scallops.

Bad scallops may have a strong odor or a slimy texture. They may also be discolored or have an off taste.

3) How to prepare & cook scallops

Scallops can be eaten raw or cooked. To prepare scallops for cooking, rinse them under cold water and pat them dry. Use a sharp knife to remove the tough muscle on the side of the scallop. Scallops can be cooked using various appliances, including a stovetop, oven, or grill. Some common ways to cook scallops include searing, baking, grilling, and broiling.

You can use scallops in a variety of dishes, such as salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and soups. You can also use them to make ceviche or serve them with a sauce.

Scallops are not suitable for vegan or vegetarian diets. However, they can be appropriate for a keto or paleo diet. Some people may be allergic to scallops. Furthermore, they can also cause food poisoning if not cooked properly. There are no religious dietary restrictions that forbid eating scallops.

4) How to serve & present scallops

Scallops are appropriate for both formal and informal meals. You can serve them as a side dish, main course, or appetizer.

You should serve scallops hot and ideally on a warm plate. A seafood fork or knife and fork are appropriate utensils to use when eating scallops. You can use a small spoon to serve any sauce or garnish.

You can serve scallops accompanied by a variety of sides, including rice, pasta, vegetables, or potatoes. Lemon, garlic, and butter are the most common seasonings.

5) Food and wine to pair scallops with

Scallops pair well with a variety of flavors, including lemon, garlic, herbs, and spices. They can pair with vegetables such as asparagus, corn, or mushrooms, and fruits like mango or pineapple. Avoid pairing scallops with strong-tasting vegetables like cabbage or Brussels sprouts.

Scallops can pair well with certain cheeses and dairy products. Creamy and mild cheeses like ricotta, mascarpone, and goat cheese can complement scallops. However, stronger cheeses like blue cheese and cheddar may overpower the delicate flavor of scallops.

You can pair scallops with some meats and fish. Light meats like chicken and pork can be viable options. When it comes to fish, scallops can pair well with mild fish like cod and halibut. However, stronger-flavored fish like salmon and tuna may clash with the flavor of scallops.

Scallops can pair well with white wine, particularly dry and crisp varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Light-bodied red wines like Pinot Noir can also complement scallops. Rosé wine and sparkling wine can also pair well with them. It is best to avoid full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and oaked white wines.

6) How to eat scallops

The most polite way to eat scallops is to use a fork and knife. It is not polite to eat scallops with your fingers. You can eat the whole scallop, including the muscle and roe. However, you can discard the muscle. The shell is not edible.

Scallops etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common scallops etiquette mistakes:

  • 7/10. Not removing the muscle from the side of the scallop.
  • 6/10. Overcooking scallops.
  • 6/10. Serving scallops cold.

Additional information for properly serving scallops

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

The number of calories in scallops can vary based on the serving size and preparation method. On average, one scallop contains around 25-30 calories. A 3-ounce serving of scallops contains around 75-90 calories, and 100 grams contain around 100-150 calories.

How to buy the best scallops

A crucial factor in scallop etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Scallops are available all year round, but the peak season in the US is from November to March.

Choose the best

Scallops are commonly found in commerce fresh or frozen, but they can also be found canned and dried.

The most popular varieties of scallops in commerce are sea scallops and bay scallops. Sea scallops are generally larger and meatier, while bay scallops are smaller and sweeter. Dry-packed scallops are considered the most prized because they are not treated with preservatives or chemicals.

When buying scallops, look for dry-packed scallops that are firm and plump. Avoid scallops that are slimy or have a strong odor.

Alternatives to scallops

Some alternatives to scallops include shrimp, lobster, and clams.